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preparation for job hunt

It pays to take a page out of the Boy Scout’s book and always Be Prepared. You may be somewhat content with your current job, but you never know when things may change. Perhaps your company downsizes and your position is cut, or your new boss is nearly impossible to work with, or you discover an amazing new work opportunity and would like to apply.

Instead of scrambling to get your ducks in a row, take action NOW to prepare for your “someday” job hunt. How to do it? Try out these five “Keeps.”

Keep your information updated.

Get in the habit of looking over your résumé every few months, or whenever you have a major work-related change (a new position or responsibility, an award, a new training certificate, etc.). Update your résumé and potentially delete outdated items. Do the same thing for your LinkedIn profile (you’d be surprised how many recruiters turn to LinkedIn for hiring!)

Keep a list of your accomplishments

No matter how small the achievement, write it down! Keep a list of all your successful projects, awards, recognition, new clients, and more. If you’re able to find statistics to back up your accomplishments (i.e. “I brought in 10 new clients for the company this past year” or “I contributed to 15% of our sales this year”), that’s even better. It’s always a good idea to bring up specific accomplishments in interviews.

Keep up your training/education

Don’t let yourself grow complacent! Look for continuing education courses, webinars, or workshops that can help keep your skills sharp. Keeping your skill set up to date will also help you in your current position.

Keep networking

It’s easy to ignore networking events when you’re not actively looking for a job, but they can provide a wealth of opportunities. You may connect with someone from your dream company or meet someone who is doing work that may be an excellent fit for your talents. Besides, networking isn’t all about job hunting. It’s about meeting potential new clients and collaborators as well. It’s also possible that you might be able to help someone else who is looking to get into a similar position or company as yours.

Keep a clear vision

Don’t forget to take “you time” every now and then to reflect upon where you currently are and where you’d like to go. What is your vision of the future? What makes you happy? Where do you see yourself in five or ten years? Keep your dreams top-of-mind and recognize that they don’t have to be just dreams. With a little effort and a clear path, they can become your reality.

 

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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perennials: don't generalize by generation

I hear it all the time. People complaining about other generations.

“Millennials are                I don’t understand them at all.”

Or: “Why are Baby Boomers so               ?”

Or: “Everyone in Gen X is clearly                  .”

It’s time we stop limiting each other. These on-the-surface labels are doing much more harm than good. They allow us to write off entire generations (many millions of people!) with sweeping generalizations. And the truth is, many people don’t fit the stereotypes.

Take “entitlement,” for example. Many people think of Millennials (the group born between 1980 and 2000) as an entitled bunch that thinks they deserve things without actually working for them. Not only is this stereotype getting tiresome, it is frankly untrue.

Although many of them started working at an economically tumultuous time (the Great Recession), Millennials have proven themselves to be innovative and resilient. They’ve invented jobs when none were available; they’ve taken over top leadership positions; they’ve learned how to live with less by taking advantage of the new “sharing economy.”

Are some Millennials entitled and lazy? Of course. But so are many Gen-Xers and Boomers.

And just because Millennials have new ways of working, doesn’t mean they’re lazy. They might simply have a better grasp on technology and be able to complete tasks more efficiently.

On the same token, not all Baby Boomers are out-of-touch and irrelevant! Many are excited and interested in new technologies, new ways of thinking, and creative endeavors.

Although generational constructs are helpful for marketing purposes, they can be utterly lethal in the workplace. Pigeonholing people before they’ve had a chance to show their true colors only harms productivity and interpersonal dynamics. Besides, you might be working alongside Perennials, a group that defies generational boundaries.

What are Perennials?

Gina Pell, who coined the term, says that Perennials are “ever-blooming, relevant people of all ages who live in the present time, know what’s happening in the world, stay current with technology, and have friends of all ages…[they] comprise an inclusive, enduring mindset, not a divisive demographic.”

I’m sure you’ve encountered many so-called Perennials in your life. These are the young people with “old souls.” These are the older people who love to crack jokes and try new things. These are the people who don’t limit their interactions to their own peer group and instead find friendship with people of all ages. These are the people who refuse to be defined by age.

As Pell says: “It’s time we chose our own category based on shared values and passions and break out of the faux constructs behind an age-based system of classification.”

I couldn’t agree more.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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life as a web

When I talk to clients about building up their personal brands, I remind them that a personal brand should be consistent and reliable. This is your reputation, the overall traits that people see in you. If you behave one way with a certain group of people and then modify your behavior drastically with another group, people will pick up on that. They will begin to question your integrity and authenticity, and your personal brand will mostly likely take a hit.

Of course, it’s a good idea to modify your actions slightly (you might have a more casual approach with co-workers than clients, for instance), but your true self should remain consistent. I talk about this concept quite a bit in my chapter on authenticity in the Ten-Minute Leadership Challenge and in various blog posts about authenticity and authentic leadership.

One thing to keep in mind when you’re focusing on your personal brand is that we live in a web. You aren’t just spinning in your own orbit, having one-off conversations with a manager here, a prospective client there. Your actions and your words can have a far-reaching effect.

I’ve personally experienced this effect during my time at 3M. People would know my reputation as a go-getter and an”idea person” before I even introduced myself. Word has a way of spreading and, because of that, the people at 3M entrusted me to take on new, experimental projects, knowing I had built up a reputation of innovation and ambition.

In your own world, your reputation might either be built or shattered by the things you say on social media, your replies (or lack of replies) to emails, your courteousness or curtness, your ability to meet deadlines (or ignore them). And you know what? The web is getting smaller. We are all linked through digital channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, Slack, email records) and our actions can be easily monitored (browser history, time stamps on email messages). Why not be transparent?

Putting your best, genuine self forward is the surest way to develop a personal brand that is consistent, trustworthy, and YOU.

FURTHER READING:

The 5 Minute Personal Branding Pep Talk

Better Personal Branding


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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ask for the job

When I tell my coaching clients that they should ask for the job in an interview, I often get slack-jawed stares and looks of horror.

“What?! What do you mean? How could I possibly be so bold?”

You can. And you should.

Keep in mind that you are one person amid a sea of candidates. Think of yourself as part of a gigantic choir. How will you make your voice stand out? How will you deliver a solo that can be heard above the rest?

I have several strategies for developing your “solo” (if you’d like to learn more, let’s talk), but one of my key strategies is to have the confidence to ask for the position you’re seeking. Note that this is different than begging. You’re not on your knees, desperately pleading with the interviewer. Instead, you’re self-assured, enthusiastic, and authentic. You demonstrate that this job means a lot to you and you know it’s aligned with your skill set.

So, HOW do you ask for the job?

Start by affirming that, yes, this is the right fit for you. Research the company and the position. Read reviews on Glass Door. And listen to your gut–if you walk into an interview and notice that everyone in the office seems to be anxious and stressed, this might not be the company for you. Or, if your interviewer is curt and unfriendly, that might be a warning sign for what’s ahead. Trust both your instincts and your research. If you’re impressed with the company and you get a good feeling when you walk through the doors, that’s a good sign that you should make the bold move of asking for the job.

When you’re asking for the job, timing is everything. Your ask should come toward the end of the interview. Usually, the interviewer will ask if you have any questions or anything you’d like to add. This is your chance to make your move.

Start by complimenting the company (but be sure you’re sounding sincere). Say something like: “When I researched ABC Company, I was really impressed by your annual growth and the way you give back to the community. Now that I’m here in person, I’m even more impressed by the atmosphere and the way everyone has treated me with such warmth since the moment I walked through the door…”

Then, deliver your ask. Be confident. Practice asking for the job in front of the mirror so you become accustomed to how it might sound. Here are a few ways to do your ask:

“Your company seems like a great fit and I can picture myself thriving here. What can I do to convince you that I’m the right person for this position?”

“I can tell this position aligns with my skill set and I would very much like to work here.”

“This job sounds like a perfect match for my skills and experience. What can I do to demonstrate that I’m ready to work with you and your team?”

“I’m even more enthusiastic about this position than when I came in this morning and I’m confident I would be a good fit. What is the next step in the hiring process?”

REMEMBER: Go into your ask with grace, confidence, and the realization that the interviewer may respectfully decline OR hire you on the spot. Are you ready to get out there and put your new skill to work?

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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the benefits of fear

Halloween is right around the corner, so that got me thinking about fear and how we handle it in our daily lives. As a career coach, I often work with people who are afraid–afraid to quit their current job, afraid to ask their boss for a raise, afraid to open up and let themselves be vulnerable. While it’s a good idea to work past your fears and not let yourself become debilitated by them, the emotion itself is not a bad thing.

You feel fear for a reason. The reptilian part of our brain (primarily the amygdala) has a “fight or flight” instinct built into it that helps keep us safe. Even though we also have a logical area of our brain, governed by reason, the amygdala sometimes kicks in so strongly that we have an actual physical reaction to it.

Have you ever felt your palms sweat or your muscles stiffen when you’re asked to lead a company meeting or when you’re engaged in a particularly tense conversation? How about when your boss calls you into the office? The primitive part of your brain is likely screaming, “Run! Run far away!”

Sure, it’s a good idea to overcome that fear and step into your boss’ office, but it’s not a bad thing that you felt fear in the first place. In fact, fear can actually be a good thing. It can drive us to make big changes; it can warn us to move forward cautiously; it can motivate us to prepare for that company meeting. Instead of denying your fear, embrace it!  Recognize that it exists because you’re willing to challenge yourself and do great things.

Part of being a leader involves fear and healthy risk-taking. Good leaders make tough decisions, instead of running from them or pushing them aside for someone else to deal with. And with tough decisions, comes fear.

Fear isn’t the enemy. It’s how you deal with fear that counts. Will you choose to let yourself be consumed by fear? Will you let it stop you in your tracks? Or will you face it head-on and figure out how to move past it? It’s only by challenging ourselves to move beyond our comfort zones that we achieve personal and professional growth.

 

Need help conquering your fears? Please do not hesitate to contact me today.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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woman reaching for a donut in the office

We’ve all read the dreaded (and irresistible) announcement:

 There are donuts in the break room. Help yourself.

Recurring temptations combined with fatigue from early mornings, computer screen stares, and constant desk sitting, make it too easy for a person to abandon any sort of healthy diet in exchange for an easy treat and a sugar rush. There are, however, a few strategies you can incorporate into your work-day routine to combat the dreaded “office diet.”

Plan your meals.

The first and most important strategy is to plan your meal for the next day. If you’re running late one morning and you don’t have time to grab a lunch, fast food and break room treats will most likely be your solution. By packing a healthy meal with plenty of high-energy snacks to graze on throughout the day, you’re giving yourself the ammunition and energy to say no to unhealthy temptations.

Take breaks.

Oftentimes snacking serves as a distraction—and the mindless eating will only get easier as your eyes blur, your neck stiffens, and your legs cramp, all from sitting at the computer for too long. Don’t reach for food when your body really craves a break.

Get up and walk away from your desk to get your blood flowing. This helps to avoid sugar and caffeine cravings brought on by lethargy. If breaks aren’t on your radar when bombarded by your hefty to-do list, try setting a timer to go off at intervals throughout the day as a reminder to step away from your desk—even if just for a moment. By introducing daily buffers to stretch and move your body, your energy levels stay up and your mind (and willpower) stay sharp.

Drink lots of water.

This isn’t news. Water makes us feel good and dehydration hurts. Unfortunately, while it’s easy to snack at the desk, it’s also easy to become dehydrated, which leads to feelings of hunger, fatigue, cravings, and headaches—all symptoms that point to water, but ultimately lead to sugary snacks.

Find office allies.

Everything’s easier with a little encouragement and company. With a communicated purpose, your team can resist temptation by changing the culture around the office—by celebrating good health, together.

 

It may be difficult, but your eating habits at work will make or break your health routine. Rearrange your priorities—take care of yourself so you can take care of your work (and feel great doing it).

 

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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wanted2

You’ve probably heard phrases like, “You don’t get what you don’t ask for” or “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” There’s a reason those idioms are popular—they’re absolutely true!

It isn’t enough to secretly wish for something; the best way to get what you want is to take clear, direct action. Oftentimes, that means having the courage to call upon others for help or guidance. It means starting a dialogue and expressing your desires.

Why do we so often hesitate to ask for what we want?

This hesitation can stem from a fear of feeling vulnerable or unworthy, or the belief that successful people never ask for help. All of these fears work within us to maintain the status quo and prevent us from seeking the change we desire.

Don’t let your pride keep you from asking for what you want. This is a lesson I learned as a senior leader at 3M and one that I now apply to my current work as a career coach. It’s okay to lean on others and ask for help. You don’t have to do everything on your own!

Whether you’d like to ask for a raise, take on a new project, or revamp an outdated work system, have the courage to speak up. Seek out the areas where you desire change and begin asking the right people for help.

Harder than it sounds, right?

In order to overcome the hesitation you might feel to ask for what you want, I’ve put together these 9 guidelines:

  1. Be honest with yourself about your current dreams and needs—know what you want.
  2. Seek support from the experts and professionals around you who can best support your goals.
  3. Always believe that what you’re asking for is possible.
  4. Be genuine about your wants and honest with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses.
  5. Consider sending an email or making a phone call to introduce yourself to those who you think may be of service. Outline your needs, but don’t be pushy. Take the time to build a trusting relationship.
  6. Always be passionate about what you request.
  7. Never let fear prevent you from acting.
  8. Anticipate that not everyone will be able or willing to help, and always allow for a gracious opportunity for others to bow out.
  9. Be persistent—try, try, and try again until you achieve success.

Don’t let your inner saboteur get in the way of your own success—believe that you are deserving of what you want, and have the courage to ask for it.

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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